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Crossfire vs single GPU

post #1 of 9
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I'm building a budget gaming rig. My target price is $600 (lol I know right?) but I'm willing to go up to ~$800 minus reusable things like a good case and cables and thermal paste and a nice monitor, meaning no Titans. I've allocated about $300 to go to hard drives (about $30 more than I'll actually spend) and the processor I'm looking at is AMD's FX 6300, leaving $200-430 for everything else. I'm also looking at getting (an) ATI graphics card(s) and an AMD motherboard. I have no bias nor brand loyalty, but ATI and AMD makes good processors for the price, while Nvidia and Intel seem to be typically more powerful (or so I've heard... Please don't start a flame war) and I assume that having all components the same brand would make sure everything plays nicely together?

Anywho, assuming an unlimited budget and the only restricting factors being the cards themselves, would crossfiring two graphics cards with X FLOPS each be better or worse than a single GPU with an output of 2X FLOPS? And assuming a budget of X dollars, is crossfiring your typical $X/2 GPU more or less cost efficient than buying a single $X GPU?

Finally, what would be a (couple of) good graphics card(s for crossfiring) for $120-180 (total), plus or minus some dollars? I'm looking at a Radeon 6850 or 7770 for now. And is more RAM worth it typically? I don't want to play Battlefield 3 on the highest settings, just with a smooth framerate and noticeably better graphics than a console.
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post #2 of 9
So you have about ~360 (180 x 2) form a graphics card, definitely pick a high end one over a low end one.

Low end graphics cards have microstutter and scale badly in games (on most occasions) so it won't be very smooth. Also, it is pretty useless to crossfire a 1gb VRAM card, as you will hit the limit and have to force video settings lower. Go with a 7950/7970 if you can find a decent one in your budget
     
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post #3 of 9
I would also suggest one more powerful card over two lesser ones, at least for the time being...

If I were you I'd grab a 7950. You could certainly go with a 7970/7970GHz but I think you'd be better off saving a bit and getting nearly the same performance with the 7950.
 
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post #4 of 9
I say, a nice high clocked 7950, as these are binned higher and will generally overclock well, also go for a reference card may you wish to watercool in the future
     
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post #5 of 9
Single card, unless two cheaper ones will perform significantly better for the same price.

For what its worth, I got two 5870s a while back for that reason. Two were much better than any single card I could get for the price (at the time). Crossfire does cause stuttering in some games, so I disable it half the time. Tbh in a lot of games I don't even notice since a single card runs a lot of games at 60 fps just fine. With that said, I'm glad I bought them.

So unless there's a good difference in performance, I think you should save yourself the trouble and go with one card.

Also, why would you spend half your budget on hard drives confused.gif.
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post #6 of 9
Crossfire and/or SLI will increase performance dramatically, assuming a couple of things, however:

1) The game/program is Crossfire compatible, meaning it has profiles uploaded by AMD into their drivers meant to optimize and provide Crossfire capability.

2) You don't mind a little instability. Don't get me wrong, Crossfire and SLI drivers have come a long way since their introduction, however, it hasn't been perfected yet. Crossfire will possibly (key word there) bring micro stuttering, screen tearing, and a slew of other issues. Again, POSSIBLY. Not always.

3) You have enough power to support it. Xfire/SLI requires much more wattage than a single GPU does because it has to power both simultaneously. The modern cards are manufactured to require less power, but using two 7870's for example is still gonna need more power than a single (500-550 to about 600-650 depending on the card and I'm just rough estimating). That's more money spent on the PSU that you could have saved.

4) That you are playing at high resolutions. Xfire isn't too necessary for much under 1080p res and would again be wasting money.

As the others have said, either go for a 7950 or I would suggest a 7870 and then overclock to a similar 7950 configuration. Xfire is gonna be much more expensive in the long run. $180 ain't gonna cut it for much either. Might want to consider upping the budget for the nicer single card. Just a thought.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drjoey1500 View Post

Also, why would you spend half your budget on hard drives confused.gif.

Well, my budget is more like $800 but my target for a barebones set-up is $600 (SSD, GPU(s), CPU, MOBO, RAM). And one of my hard drive was going to be used solely for media storage, but after thinking about it, I realized that I can always add one in later and I just don't have enough stuff to justify it for now, putting the cost at $200 for a good SSD and HDD combo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by truestorybro545 View Post

Crossfire and/or SLI will increase performance dramatically, assuming a couple of things, however:

1) The game/program is Crossfire compatible, meaning it has profiles uploaded by AMD into their drivers meant to optimize and provide Crossfire capability.

2) You don't mind a little instability. Don't get me wrong, Crossfire and SLI drivers have come a long way since their introduction, however, it hasn't been perfected yet. Crossfire will possibly (key word there) bring micro stuttering, screen tearing, and a slew of other issues. Again, POSSIBLY. Not always.

3) You have enough power to support it. Xfire/SLI requires much more wattage than a single GPU does because it has to power both simultaneously. The modern cards are manufactured to require less power, but using two 7870's for example is still gonna need more power than a single (500-550 to about 600-650 depending on the card and I'm just rough estimating). That's more money spent on the PSU that you could have saved.

4) That you are playing at high resolutions. Xfire isn't too necessary for much under 1080p res and would again be wasting money.

As the others have said, either go for a 7950 or I would suggest a 7870 and then overclock to a similar 7950 configuration. Xfire is gonna be much more expensive in the long run. $180 ain't gonna cut it for much either. Might want to consider upping the budget for the nicer single card. Just a thought.

That probably seems like my best bet. I'm more worried about support in older games, though playing those at the highest setting will not by any means break the bank. Seeing as I'll be using a 1280x1024 monitor for a while (5:4 aspect ratio FTW!), then there's even less reason. But basically I can spend the same amount of money for a theoretically less powerful GPU that performs better in the real world? In that case, no crossfiring for me unless it's cheaper down the road to get a second of whatever I have now.

EDIT: Wow, save $100 and get similar performance
Quote:
Originally Posted by PedroC1999 View Post

I say, a nice high clocked 7950, as these are binned higher and will generally overclock well, also go for a reference card may you wish to watercool in the future

Watercooling kind of freaks me out. It's quiet and efficient, I get that, but since my set-up will have an SSD and a WD Blue (read: no Raptors) noise isn't an issue and nobody complains about their electronics being air damaged. As long as I regularly clean off dust and get good airflow, then I should be fine. My laptop runs 65-70 Celsius without a cooling pad under a maximum load and it hasn't died yet. Assuming I get less crappy fans and less crappy thermal paste and only overclock about 10% I should be fine?
Edited by CynicalUnicorn - 6/9/13 at 8:49am
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post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by CynicalUnicorn View Post

That probably seems like my best bet. I'm more worried about support in older games, though playing those at the highest setting will not by any means break the bank. Seeing as I'll be using a 1280x1024 monitor for a while (5:4 aspect ratio FTW!), then there's even less reason. But basically I can spend the same amount of money for a theoretically less powerful GPU that performs better in the real world? In that case, no crossfiring for me unless it's cheaper down the road to get a second of whatever I have now.

EDIT: Wow, save $100 and get similar performance

The lower end cards don't do Xfire very well, as Pedro mentioned earlier. Those cards are meant for an HTPC like build, not for something that is primarily gaming. The 7950 or 7870's will run beautifully compared to Xfire of the 7770, even at 1080p (which I do suggest for a later point in time biggrin.gif ). Plus, you won't be experiencing a lot of the standard issues that Xfire MIGHT bring.

Go for 7950 if you can, but 7870 at least, then save some money and move to 1080p in the future. thumb.gif
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by truestorybro545 View Post

Go for 7950 if you can, but 7870 at least, then save some money and move to 1080p in the future. thumb.gif

Thanks everybody! smile.gif 7870 and about 10% overclocking (until I get good numbers for temperature) gives similar performance to a stock 7950 from the looks of it, and by the time I get a new monitor, it'll be time to upgrade. And for a slightly related question that doesn't warrant a new thread: how many cores do games tend to need? Would a quadcore perform about the same as an octacore or hexacore in the same family? A bunch of CPUs I've looked at so far say stuff like, "8 cores to dominate the competition!" or "6 cores to secure victory!" but do they really make a difference? Specifically, the FX4300 vs FX6300. The former is clocked at 600 MHz more with 2 cores less.

EDIT: Here. [URL=http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/cpu-charts-2012/compare,3175.html?prod[5946]=on&prod[5948]=on]Look at this.[/URL] The quad-core is doing a bit better with games and even image editing in a bunch of scenarios, but more cores just means better encoding?
Edited by CynicalUnicorn - 6/9/13 at 5:05pm
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